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What is our national sport emblem?

Having been in Berlin for the crucial period of elections and the inauguration of the "new" South Africa I found it interesting catching up on our new national emblems. Certainly, neither the rugby or cricket teams are yet called the proteas in Europe (it is ironical that more proteas occur in Australia than South Africa, but that's politics), but I personally had no difficulty in identifying the plant. Protea Atlas Logo

The obovoid, stalkless leaves and flower tips elongated into cone in the centre of the flowerhead are diagnostic of Protea magnifica, the Queen Sugarbush.

You may imagine my surprise when on TV they called it Protea cynaroides. SA National Sports EmblemBut my amazement turned to astonishment when I was shown an interview with the designer published in the Weekend Post 6.11.93. Listen to this (I quote:)! "The country's national flower, Protea cynaroides (also called King, Queen or Giant Protea), finally was chosen as a symbol of strength and unity". And there, in his hand, was the design opposite!

The diagnostic feature for Protea cynaroides is the long stalk to the leaf. This is definitely not "The King"!

I hope all this does not mean that instead of our rugby boys being called "King Proteas" (and being strong and unified), they will in future become known as the "Queens." It's enough to make one feel weak and disorientated.

Tony Rebelo, 1995

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